Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Smoking: cut back or cut it out?

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Q. I've been smoking for over 40 years. I've tried and tried but just can't quit. Would it help just to cut back instead of stopping?

A. Doctors usually try to get people to stop smoking entirely to reduce their risk of heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. It might seem cutting down must be better than not cutting down, but experts think that people who cut back on the number of cigarettes may inhale more deeply when they do smoke, such that the amount of harmful chemicals in their blood created by smoking doesn't actually decrease.

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